Chapter 3 : Ebola Virus Disease: Therapeutic and Potential Preventative Opportunities

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In mid-1976 an outbreak of hemorrhagic fever was reported in southern Sudan and northern Zaire. Patients with the disease, which appeared first in southern Sudan in June 1976, presented with influenza-like symptoms including headache, fever, and myalgias and rapidly progressed to a more severe illness characterized by diarrhea, vomiting, chest pains, and hemorrhage. The disease was associated with a high mortality rate and was transmitted between close contacts of the severely ill, resulting in a substantial number of cases being linked to a local hospital ( ). An outbreak of a disease with similar symptoms was noted in northern Zaire beginning in September 1976, and by 24 October there were 280 deaths out of a total of 318 cases, for a case fatality rate of 88% ( ). When samples derived from patients affected by the Sudan and Zaire outbreaks were used to infect Vero cells in culture, guinea pigs, or mice, a filamentous virus similar to Marburg virus was observed ( ). Virus particles with a similar morphology were also identified in postmortem liver samples from patients in Zaire ( ). Antigenic comparisons of the new virus isolates and Marburg demonstrated that while there was cross-reactivity between the Sudan and Zaire viruses, they were distinct from Marburg virus, and the new isolates were designated “Ebola virus” (EBOV) after a river near the outbreak site in Zaire ( ). Unlike Marburg virus, for which a single species has been described, at least five different species of the genus exist ( ). and are the species most frequently associated with human disease ( ).

Citation: Fisher R, Borio L. 2016. Ebola Virus Disease: Therapeutic and Potential Preventative Opportunities, p 53-71. In Scheld W, Hughes J, Whitley R (ed), Emerging infections 10. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.EI10-0014-2016
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